By Karen Ehman & Ruth Schwenk
A few years ago my eldest son had saved his money to buy a hamster. I had said no for years, but for some reason I was feeling a bit vulnerable at the time and succumbed to his request. Realizing, after about two months, that he didn’t want to take care of it anymore, he sold the hamster, its cage, extra bedding and food to his sister for $1.00. It was a great deal for her and she affectionately named it Ginger. Aside from Ginger’s escape tricks, she has been pretty much a non-factor, except for one daily habit that I was not prepared for.
Every night around 11:00 p.m., I snuggle into bed, close my eyes and breathe deeply after a busy day full of four chattering children. Bedtime! Unfortunately for me, at that very same time Ginger wakes up for her day and, before long, she climbs up into her very squeaky hamster wheel and starts running. And running. And running. All night long. After many nights of listening to the constant rhythmic squeaking of Ginger’s wheel, it dawned on me that my life as a mom can so often feel just like I’m stuck on a wheel of my very own, running and running, around and around.
Let’s be real: Motherhood is busy, stressful, and sometimes chaotic! Often we can feel like we’re trapped, running nonstop. But I wonder if it HAS to be this way. Do moms really have to do it all? This myth (that a mom has to do it all) only feeds the exhaustion. We’ve been hoodwinked into believing that motherhood has to rule our lives.
With all of the busyness that motherhood brings, there is a way forward—a way out of the rat race and into a more restful place. Now don’t get me wrong. I believe with all of my heart that motherhood brings new-found blessings…but I also know that motherhood brings with it the need to establish new boundaries. If we don’t, we keep running and running and running without rest.
So it you have been tricked into thinking that you can and should do it all, here are a few truths to replace those lies. The truth really does bring freedom – a freedom that will help you stay the course during the busy season of motherhood.
- It’s okay to ask for help. We weren’t meant to do this alone. It’s easy to feel not only overwhelmed, but also isolated, during motherhood. Escaping the rat race requires believing that it is okay to ask for assistance when you need it. It is not a weakness to ask a friend or family member to watch the kids for an afternoon, to pray for you, or to come over for time together. We need each other!
- Changing seasons require changing responsibilities. Every season of life is different. Do you remember those years without kids? What did we do with all of out time? When kids come along it might mean learning to live with new limitations. During this season there may be hobbies, activities, areas of ministry or vocational pursuits that are unrealistic to pursue. Recognizing that our responsibilities have changed because our season of life has changed takes the pressure off feeling like we have to do it all.
- Focus on what is most important. Motherhood has a way of providing clarity. Or at least it can. Stepping out of the rat race means learning to focus on not just what we have to do, but what we should do. This might mean saying “no” to good opportunities for the sake of what is most important. Every time we say no, we are saying yes to something else.
Can moms really do it all? No, of course not! And we don’t have to. The rat race doesn’t have to rule us. Moms really can love their families, enjoy the countless blessings of motherhood, and stay energized during this season of life. We can choose to live on mission, say no, and proactively face our schedules with what matters most. Motherhood doesn’t have to be a hamster-in-a-wheel experience!
[Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and a New York Times best-selling author. She also writes for Encouragement for Today online devotions that bring God’s peace, perspective and purpose to over one million women daily. Described as profoundly practical, engagingly funny and downright real, her passion is to help women to live their priorities and love their lives as they serve God and others. You can connect with Karen on Twitter @Karen_Ehman or on Facebook (Karen Ehman) or at www.proverbs31.org.
Ruth Schwenk is the creator of TheBetterMom.com and co-creator of ForTheFamily.org. She is a pastor’s wife, mom of four energetic kids, coffee lover, and dreamer of big dreams. She loves leading, speaking and blogging. Ruth is the co-author of two books with Zondervan. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Ruth and her husband have been serving in local church ministry for nearly 15 years. You can connect with Ruth on Twitter @thebettermom or Facebook (thebettermom) or at www.thebettermom.com or http://forthefamily.org. ]